Gels: New Developments

I am busy working on the next post for the on-axis light series for Monday. But I wanted to take a moment to bring you up to speed on some new gel-related stuff.

After the jump, two new small-flash-related gel items, and an "I Know a Guy" gel source so cool I almost wished I lived in LA.


Hold Everything: The LumiQuest FXtra Gel Holder

LumiQuest's Quest Couch would like to personally thank you guys for the free product development consulting, as he reports that the FXtra gel holder was developed "100 percent" due to input from this group.

He tweaked the design to fit most any speedlight other than the Vivitar 285 (which is not only very big but also has its own built-in gel slot) and added a few features that will probably make many of you happy.

First, it mounts to any flash using the (included) hook-and-loop fasteners, and passes the fastener through to the outside. That means that you can mount an FXtra to a flash and then mount another light mod on the outside of the FXtra.

Second, he included a pocket to store gels with the flash when you are not using them. It is almost as if he took a long hard look at the photo stuff strewn all over the floorboards of my car when we met for lunch a few months ago.

Last but not least, included with the FXtra is a selection of commonly used gels (and a few effect colors) cut to size:

• CTO (tungsten conversion)
• 1/2 CTO
• 1/4 CTO
• Plus Green (fluorescent conversion)
• Sky Blue
• Canary Yellow
• Fire Red

The gels are sized to extend past the holder to fit the larger flash heads (SB-26s, Canon 580s etc.) but can be trimmed to fit the SB-800s, -600s and other smaller flash heads.

FXtras are $19.95, and available at MPEX now and soon, everywhere. More info on the FXtra at

Simple Solution to a Sample Problem

A thousand people taking advantage of a sample program is a good thing. A quarter million people taking advantage of it is too much of a good thing.

It is exactly for that reason that the Rosco gel sample packs were in danger of going bye-bye just a short while ago. But rather than shut it down, they decided to address the issue directly and in an economically sustainable way.

The result is the Strobist Gel Pack, which is currently under development. They are speedlight sized, no holes and multiple copies of the gels we use most. There is a selection of standard color balancing gels, with some effect colors thrown in -- and none of the stuff we end usually up throwing away.

I have seen a prototype kit, and I'm stoked. I can't tell you how happy I am that Rosco has chosen to respond to the needs of small-flash shooters -- and solved the gel sample problem with smart thinking rather than an axe.

Mad props to Rosco for this solution. More info as it becomes available and I definitely will be first in line to buy some Strobist gel packs.

They Were Expendable

Several people came up to me at the recent LA lighting seminars and told me about "The Expendables Recycler," a very cool SoCal shop that buys leftover rolls of gels from movie sets and sells them at discount rates.

Typical savings are ~1/3 off of full retail, a price which is firmly supported by your local Theatre Supply monopoly. (They typically justify the full price by spelling it, "theatre" instead of "theater.")

BEFORE YOU COME CRASHING DOWN ON THIS PLACE, owner Todd Parker would like me to pass along a note that if you are just buying single 20x24" sheets to be shipped you are better off going to your local gel mafia supplier. But if you are getting gels in quantity (many sheets, full rolls, etc.) you'll definitely want to comparison shop.

He has lots of full rolls and partial rolls at decent discounts. And yes, I got myself a roll of Rosco #3008 Tough Frost diffusion material on the cheap before I told you about it. Heh.

UPDATE: Shipping costs are steep. If you are ordering via phone or mail, you'd better be prepared to bulk up if you want to save real money. But if you are local to SoCal, it's a no-brainer if you can pick up.

More info at The Expendables Recycler.


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Blogger Kyle said...

Wow! Lots of great information. I'll have to keep an eye out for Rosco's new gel packs, I tried to get the samples after they had already put them on hold.

October 17, 2008 1:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If Rosco is going to provide multiple copies of "speedlight sized" gels in their Strobist Kit, they are effectively providing pre-cut gels. Why not just provide it uncut, i.e., single copies of their standard 10x12" sheets?

Mike R

October 17, 2008 2:07 AM  
Anonymous Jimster71 said...

The gel holder looks like a nice idea, even better that they include a selection of gels.

For those in the UK, I used to get a bunch of colour correcting gels, plus velcro, for a decent price. They are pre cut strips to fit the size of the flash.

October 17, 2008 2:18 AM  
Anonymous joe said...

since you seem to have an inside connection on the new rosco pack. could you ask if it would be possible for them to include a series of CTS (straw, 1/4 and full for example). the rosco CTO's are a tad to red for some cameras.
and CTS also works really well for a rimlight, it creates this golden glow on the cheecks and temples.
also CTO's are kinda easy to get by, CTS's are hard to find.

much appreciated. J

October 17, 2008 5:00 AM  
Anonymous Victor said...

It's great that Rosco have reacted to the mysterious popularity of their sample packs by developing a Strobist Gel Pack. In the meantime, the rest of us have been buying just such a product from They have reasonable prices and an excellent and fast service.

October 17, 2008 7:00 AM  
Blogger Sean "Madman" Sullivan said...

I bought 2 of the new gel holders...fantastic items. Taping on gels, using velcro, etc was getting to be a PITA. Life is simple now. Even got Joe McNally to use one during a nighttime one strobe demo (which in typical Joe fashion turned into a 3 strobe one) in Woodstock, VT last week. Well worth the $20. Once semi-con though, it takes a bit of work to get the gel in at first..I'm assuming that they will stretch a bit after a little use. :)

October 17, 2008 12:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That is great news that Rosco is finally supporting this community directly. I'm surprised it took them so long. Any idea on their pricing?

If you need gels for your flashes before these are available, has similar packs like this ($6ea) but with more gels. And the customer service is excellent. My gels arrived 2 days after placing an order with them. I had to wait 4 months for the sample swatch book I requested from Rosco to arrive.

October 17, 2008 12:58 PM  
Anonymous Tarjei99 said...

How does the FXtra attach to the flash? Any glue involved ?

October 17, 2008 1:09 PM  
Anonymous Quest said...

Hey, it's great to hear the positive feedback on the FXtra gel holders! "Madman" IS a tight fit for the gels, any looser would mean more light leak at the edges...tough trade-off. Removing the corner of the gels with a 45 cut helps a lot. Also, did you notice that it accommodates Rosco and Lee sample pacs?
Let us know about any problems/suggestions.

October 17, 2008 1:47 PM  
Anonymous Michael said...

Well there goes my idea. I have worked out a nice Strobist gel set - number/CT's as per Mr. Hobby's post a bit back.

Got all the logistics figured out, medium scale production costs down, got the price point at the recommended level, and was even able to work in enough profit to get a 50D when they are discontinued.

Was just getting the startup scratch and partner when I read this.

At least I wasn't too far ahead of the curve or behind it.

October 17, 2008 2:33 PM  
Blogger brent said...

Hey, was wondering or a while if it works the same to bounce into/through an umbrella with a gel on a flash.. Still haven't gotten any gels.

October 17, 2008 2:39 PM  
Blogger Ken said...

For the Nikon shooters out there wouldn't the SJ-1 or SJ-3 Gel set work for you as well? It costs the same and it's cut for the SB-800/SB-900. The SJ-1 set also comes with 20 gels in 8 colors.

If you have an SB-R200 look for the SJ-2 set.

October 17, 2008 6:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The nikon gel packs are ok, but if there is any wind, they tend to flap around since they are only held on one end. A more secure mounting system definitely works better.

October 18, 2008 2:41 AM  
Blogger fjblau said...

Agreed on the Nikon-included gels... they have NEVER stayed on for me... and I find inserting and even USING them a total PITA... just ordered 3 of the Fxtra sets!

October 18, 2008 12:02 PM  
Anonymous Eric Hamilton / Nikon Strobist said...

I saw this product before I saw this post on the blog and I was STOKED! =) I didn't realize that it was developed specifically in response to the Strobist community.

Great post!

October 18, 2008 6:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please don't forget about I ordered from them and they're fantastic (created specifically for the Strobist community).

October 19, 2008 2:35 AM  
Blogger Jeff said...

Very nice. Gels are a pain to carry and organize, this should fit the bill nicely!

October 20, 2008 5:11 PM  
Blogger Alexandre Campagna said...

I agree with adding CTS gels along with the CTO's. I too consider the CTS gives better color on skin than CTO's....

Please Rosco! Include CTS gels!

October 21, 2008 9:40 AM  
Anonymous JohnF said...

Is the FXtra compatible with the Ray Flash ringlight?

October 29, 2008 8:57 AM  
Blogger DD46 said...

Do any of you FXtra owners have an opinion about the feasibility of any of these three uses?
...sheet polarizer (mine came from Arbor Scientific) cut to flashhead size, to use in combo with a polarizing filter on the camera lens for wiping out glare per "Light Science and Magic" (Trick: Need one 'always-on' light source in order to align the on-camera filter with those on the flashhead(s).)
...fresnel lens, so as to let FXtra become an alternative to Better Beamer
...ND filters, to adjust flash output on a flash with no output control

If so, maybe Lumiquest would like to offer these as FXtra accessories. (The sheet polarizer in gel form was $40 for 10x14" or so, but you only need a little of that esp. in a slip-in holder.

November 15, 2008 5:52 PM  
Blogger Alberto Freire said...

I'm playing with a DIY Gel Kit.... want to try it?

Its basically a laser transparency printed by a color laser.... for those of us lacking $$


November 26, 2008 9:34 PM  
Anonymous General Dogsbody said...

For UK strobists
has a selection of gels for £2.99 plus £1 postage

December 06, 2008 6:51 PM  
Blogger karatedog said...

I'm now an owner of the FXTra, but I'd been more happy if they told me that it wont fit well on the SB-900. The velcro can be glued to only one side of the flash, and only the top edge is usable.

August 30, 2009 7:36 PM  
Blogger David said...


These were designed before the big-headed '900s were out.

August 30, 2009 8:36 PM  
Blogger black01 said...

I am surprised that nobody mention that this Fxtra system, even if really cool, can melt in contact with the heat of your flash (sb 24, 580 EX...) at full power and 24 mm zoom position, even if the plastic is not in close contact with the strobe... Once the "burning" has started, nothing can stop it and every time i use a burned fxtra at full power with 24 mm, my flash and the fxtra smell and smoke... And the fxtra is getting darker and darker. I mentionned that to my reseller who said it was the first time he heard about such a problem. I got a new one but it happened again... I complained again but no answer... Amazing.

November 15, 2010 6:30 PM  
Blogger David said...


Call LQ. Everything they sell has a lifetime guarantee.

November 15, 2010 7:27 PM  

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